Sunday, September 25, 2005

On second thought...

The main reason I moved back home wasn't to assist my family or anything (although that's what I tell most people). In fact I'm here mostly so that I can re-evaluate the direction my life is taking. After the depressing-even-to-me New Year's post, I decided I need to do something with my life, because what I've been doing hasn't made me particularly happy. The goal during my time at home was to explore my options- in particular the possibility of applying to film school.

It's no secret that I've loved movies for years. And with my love for movies has been a far-in-the-distance dream of someday being a director. But now that the time has come to act on this dream, I'm having second thoughts. Last week I had a talk with my parents and told them that I'm not sure I want to go back to school at this time in my life. I know it sounds silly- "you've been dreaming of being a filmmaker for years, you fucko, so what's the holdup?" Honestly, I don't know. My mom thinks I'm afraid. See, my undergrad years pretty much sucked- the only education I found worthwhile was found in movie theatres- and they became a kind of cruel joke when it turned out that the only thing that I (who went in undecided) was interested in studying wasn't offered at a university with over 200 majors. D'oh! So, two years into my college education, getting plenty of financial aid from the school, I decided to finish out my time at OSU by... coasting. I didn't try, because I didn't care.

Cut to today, 4 1/2 years after graduation. I'm still working for the same company I did in college, making a good deal less than a college grad prolly ought to make (of course, this is relative; I grew up hearing from my folks that a college degree would open all kinds of doors for me, and now I'm just grateful to be getting medical coverage so that if I'm ever plowed over by a lorry [yes, I just wrote "lorry"- I also say "gair-idge" when talking about where I park my car at home] I won't have to die to avoid paying out the ass for the rest of my life). I don't mind my job, but it doesn't really fulfill me from an intellectual standpoint- consider today, when my entire staff was comprised of high schoolers (felt a little like Romper Room). So you'd think it would be prime time to pursue the dream, before I get too old and have too many firm commitments (wife, kids... oh wait, I'm talking about myself here hahahahahahahahahahaha). But no. With me, it's never as simple as doing something. I have to think about it. I've always had to think about it, and more and more lately my thinking about things has led me to one potential consequence- failure.


Some people wouldn't consider me a failure. After all, I'm a college graduate with a management job, complete with benefits. But mostly, I feel like I've let myself down.

But enough of the self-pity. It's more than three months until New Year's.

The question is this- do I really not want to go to film school, or is there something inherent in my personality that holds me back from pursuing things I really want? I know I'm capable of writing good screenplays- writer-friends who've read what I've already written have told me so. And I'm certainly not at a loss for ideas- at this point, I have roughly ten screenplays that are at least in the mental-brewing phase, if not partially or completely finished. And I have particular ideas for how I'd like them to be made as well, so I'd like to direct them myself. Everything inside me tells me that if I ever want these ideas to be put to film, then going back to school is the most sensible way to make it happen. But of course it is- my concerns now are access to equipment and making connections to knowledgeable collaborators. And since Portage County, Ohio isn't a filmmaking mecca, and since I'm not the kind of schmoozer who could charm the pants off film-smart types so as to make them work for/with me, film school makes sense.

So what's the holdup already? Is it fear of failure that holds me back? Or is it something more insidious? Namely, the malaise that has crept into my life ever since I went to college, the safe and unchallenging contentment I get from coasting through life? Or it is simpler than either of these options? Do I honestly not want to go back to college?

And what if cinema is just a phase for me? There was a time in grade school when I would pore over every book I could find about the Presidents, memorizing every little tidbit of info I could digest that was even tangentially related (ultimate proto-geek moment: in third grade, correcting a tour guide at Monticello as to a portrait of Madison- he said it was Monroe- hanging on a wall). Are the movies just a more adult variation on that same theme?

Anyway, I don't usually beseech the reader(s) of this weblog to respond- though it's always welcome when he/they do/es- but honestly, I'm reaching out here. What do you guys think I should do? Peptalks/bitchslaps/alternative suggestions welcome, particularly from those of you who could steer me in a film-related direction.

P.S.: also, I find that screenwriting is pretty fucking tedious. If I had one wish, I'd wish for all the ideas in my head to be put to paper as I thought of them- I have no trouble revising and re-writing. Just wanted to get that out there.


Jason_Alley said...

Well, first of all dude, I highly doubt that the movies are just a phase. You like them too much for that to be possible.

I also thought for the longest time that I wanted to be a director, but when I got to college I realized I just could not gather the necessary interest in the TECHINAL aspects of filmmaking, and realized that what I REALLY enjoy about movies is thinking and writing about them. It was kinda tough (because I'd though I wanted to be a director most of my life), but I came to terms with the fact that what I REALLY like about movies is just writing about them.

Don't know if that helps, but it's my experience. As cheeseball as it sounds, just take your time to figure it out and go with your heart. There's no time limit on it.

Jason_Alley said...

...and that would be the "TECHNICAL aspects of filmmaking..."

M. Lieberman said...

A roblem these days is that there are so many fractured choices people can make, that those who don't "fit the mold" fall between the cracks.

It's fucking tough, this whole choosing what do with your life thing. Believe me, I don't want to shoot campaign commercials or work in book stores anymore either.

One suggestion I'd give: Investigate the Ohio film community. There must be someone who's making a film at the time...e-mail them and ask to be a production assistant. You don't need a college degree to work on someone's film, just dedication and the such (except for things like shooting and editing, where technical expertise is necessary).

I'm still attempting to make films...most of the things from my past work experience sucked, so I gave up for awhile. But think about what you CAN do, not what you want to do...and since you are a very very good screenwriter (I still have a copy of a script you gave me eons ago, marked up), you should stick to it. Shooting and editing is no less tedious than writing, believe me.

Since moviegoing is so passive (I mean, exercising fo the brain not so much, of course), that the idea of MAKING movies, which is so incredibly active, seems horrifying. It is horrifying.

I don't know...I think it's a good idea to move home (I've done it a few times now) and think about things. And when you're in NY soon, why not poke around the film community there? I wish I had a place for you to go or something, but I don't.

It might not be a bad idea to take a filmmaking class for example, at either a community college or a cheap state college. If it blows, withdrawl, if not think about it. Just keep in mind: making movies and watching movies is a reversal.

And it's good that you watch experimental films...look at editing, how a shot follows another (and the relationship formed between the two).

I'm blathering. Hope things work out with you.

Champaign American said...

Hmmmm..Maybe there's a start as a PA for a local TV station? I know that they had some advertisments for production assistants at WCIA 3 here in Champaign. Could be a good entry point, but it's the small screen I know...

Paul C. said...

Thinking it over some more, I think I may have figured out at least one of the reasons for my unease- it's just too damn soon. If I was to apply for next fall, my applications would be due in three to four months. Three to four months to (a) research colleges, (b) visit a few campuses, (c) narrow down my choices, (d) conduct interviews when necessary, (e) pick out some writing samples and edit as needed, (f) take the GRE, and (g) apply. All while working forty hours a week. Sure, it's doable, but if this is my dream then I want to do it right. It can't be a rush job. As with most things in my life, I need to go at my own pace with this. I know my folks would have some reservations were I to take another year to decide (and their opinions are valid, since they've offered to help financially), but think about it- I had a full year and a half to research for college the first time around, without worrying about working full-time. I can't pick out a film school in three months, no way.